Spain Downgraded By Moody’s

Moody’s downgraded Spain’s sovereign credit together with the Spanish bank recapitalization fund rating to Aa2 from Aa1. Oultook negative.

Not much happening with Spanish spreads after the downgrade.


The main triggers for the downgrade are: (1) Moody’s expectation that the eventual cost of bank restructuring will exceed the government’s current assumptions, leading to a further increase in the public debt ratio. (2) Moody’s continued concerns over the ability of the Spanish government to achieve the required sustainable and structural improvement in general government finances, given the limits of central government control over the regional governments’ finances as well as the background of only moderate economic growth in the short to medium term.

Although Moody’s acknowledges that the government’s recently announced acceleration of efforts to restructure the cajas is likely to strengthen the country’s banking landscape, the rating agency believes there is a meaningful risk that the eventual cost of the recapitalization effort could considerably exceed the government’s current projections — and Moody’s own earlier estimates from December 2010 (which were calculated using a minimum tier-1 capital ratio of 8% for all entities). Specifically, the government estimates the cost to be a maximum of €20 billion (less than 2% of GDP), which is based on the capital requirements as percentage of risk-weighted assets as of 31st December 2010.

However, Moody’s believes the overall cost is likely to be nearer to €40-50 billion, reflecting more than twice Moody’s earlier estimates of recapitalization needs of €17 billion because (1) the definition of eligible capital instruments has been tightened, and (2) capital requirements have been raised to a core capital ratio of 10% for those institutions with a limited private investor base and high dependence on wholesale funding. Indeed, Moody’s believes that, in a more stressed scenario, recapitalization needs could increase to approximately €110-120 billion. Secondly, the recently published budget execution data for 2010 revealed that the path to fiscal consolidation remains unclear for some of Spain’s regional governments.

At around 60% of GDP in 2010, Spain’s public debt ratio is lower than that of several important peers, including Germany, France, the UK, Belgium and Italy. Even including the higher estimates for bank recapitalization, Spain’s debt ratio would remain lower than those of Italy (Aa2, stable) and Belgium (Aa1, stable). Moody’s continues to believe that Spain’s debt sustainability is not under threat, and its baseline assumptions do not anticipate a need for the Spanish government to ask for EFSF liquidity support. However, Spain’s substantial funding requirements — not only those of the sovereign, but also those of the regional governments and the banks — make the country susceptible to further episodes of funding stress.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 at 5:08 am and is filed under Markets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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